It's OK to come first
Everyday I meet women ( and yes, some men ) who tell me the same story—they are taking care of elderly parents, children with social or emotional issues, spouses who are less than attentive, all while holding down jobs, and assuming the roles of housekeeper, cook and chauffeur.
They are beyond stressed.
But, here’s what’s interesting— they rarely complain.
They go through their list of responsibilities with a shrug and a tired smile, as if to say, “Hey, who isn’t burned out and unhappy in their life?”
Oh, they may vent, or drink medicinal amounts of wine at the end of the day or week, but they still keep going...and going, like worn out energizer bunnies.
When they come to see me, for some, it’s the first time they’ve actually admitted that they need assistance, or actually deserve to feel better.
Even then, some of these hard-working, compassionate, exhausted people have a really hard time accepting the fact that they need to not only take care of themselves, but — gasp! — put themselves first.
And not just one bullshit yearly special occasion, like say, Mother’s Day ( a very bullshit holiday in my opinion ) but every single damn day. In some way.
I know, I know you’re saying right now, you can’t do that, your child needs you too much!
So, you’ll wait until they’re—
a) In college
b) Out of the house and working
c) Married to a very successful partner
d) Across the country and not speaking to you
Maybe your spouse doesn’t understand your need for something more.
More interaction with people who think like you, who are interested in sharing creative ideas. Maybe there’s a hobby or craft you want time for, a place you want to visit or you want to try something new — learn how to do reiki, train for a 5k, or fix a car engine.
Maybe your elderly parent is still telling you that you’ll never amount to anything and says all of your ideas are stupid.
( Hey, just because they get older, doesn’t mean they all get any wiser. Just sayin.)
Or maybe, just maybe it’s you.
Are you holding you back?
Are you afraid that if you’re not needed by everybody in your life, including the mail person who still delivers the neighbor’s mail to your house or the teenager who bags your groceries at the local Shoprite, that you don’t matter?
That being of service to everyone except yourself will get you a first class ticket into heaven?
Here’s the deal, my lovely, caring and oh, so tired ladies and gents—
You matter. Your happiness matters. You all have a purpose and you all have marvelous gifts that are here for you to develop, share and indulge in.
Putting those dreams, those needs -no matter how tiny or ridiculous- on hold for that perfect time, is denying a very essential part of you and your daily existence.
Allow your desires to be heard.
They’re like those forgotten kids rolling around in the way, way back of the beat up station wagon. They need to move up first and ride shotgun, so they can start looking through the windshield and having a conversation. Sure, they might throw you off track and seem annoyingly chatty at first; giving unwanted directions, pointing out billboards and out of state license plates.
But it’s just because they’re so excited to be there, up front with the big boys, the adults, the ones in control.
Listen to them. They have a lot to say.
Before you know it, they'll be in the driver's seat. Making the decisions, going as fast or as slow as they'd like, all the while enjoying the ride.
Because even though the way, way back can feel safe at times, nobody really hears you, or pays much attention.
And the view from the front seat is always more clear- and you've earned it.